The President of Rice Sellers Association, Daleko Market, Lagos, Silifat Akinsete, has predicted an increase in the price of rice in the second quarter of 2013, if local production was not boosted.
“If the Federal Government does not intensify efforts to support large-scale production of rice by empowering local farmers, its price will definitely shoot up.
“Since the increase in import duty on rice, its price per bag has increased from N8, 000 to N12, 000 since 2012,” Mrs. Akinsete told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday.
She said that since 2012, the volume of purchase of bags of rice in the market, reputed to be Nigeria’s largest rice market, had reduced by half.
” Customers who used to buy one or two bags, now buy half or a quarter of it,” she said.
Mrs. Akinsete said that it was only through a deliberate government policy to increase local rice production that the price of the commodity would come down.
“Nigeria’s yearly rice consumption is about 5.5 million tonnes, whereas only 1.8 million of it is produced locally.
“Hence, we rely heavily on importation to make up the balance of 3.7 million tonnes. So, the more the tariff placed on imported rice, the costlier it will be,” she said.
She noted that a specie of local rice, popularly known as `Ofada’ rice, was in short supply in the country, making it more expensive compared to the imported one.
The federal government has pledged to assist local farmers increase rice production with a view to total ban of rice import by 2015.